OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba made an astonishing recovery to become the first woman to defend her world championship 10,000 meters title on Saturday.
Dibaba had contemplated pulling out of the race after complaining of crippling stomach pains before taking her place on the starting line.
She was then left languishing at the back of the field after being accidentally tripped on lap 13 but stormed back in draining humidity to win in a time of 31 minutes 55.41 seconds.
Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse took silver in 31:59.40 with American Kara Goucher finishing strongly in a bruising race to claim bronze in 32:02.05.
“That was the hardest race of my life,” Dibaba told reporters. “I had terrible stomach pain and then I was so far back I thought it would be impossible to come back.
“But I did it for my country. I was struggling but I told myself to hang in. I didn’t want to let down the people back home in Ethiopia.”
Dibaba, who became the first woman to win the 5,000 and 10,000 double at the same world championship two years ago in Helsinki, had looked out of the race after her stumble.
But the 22-year-old recovered her composure superbly well after taking a drink of water and began a remarkable fightback, overtaking Abeylegesse to complete a dazzling victory.
“I bumped into my team mate (Mestawet) Tufa,” said Dibaba. “She fell and I didn’t see her so I almost went down too. It was the biggest accomplishment of my career to fight back and win.”
Dibaba’s win extends Ethiopia’s record of having won every world title in the event since 1999. Her elder sister Ejegayehu, silver medallist at the 2004 Olympics, finished seventh.